Salvation Army faces new donation challenges

Bell ringers for the mid-Missouri Salvation Army are finding out that many people's wallets are empty, but not for a reason you might think.

Bell ringer Toni Swafford said eight out of 10 people who come up to her in the Columbia Hy-Vee where she rings simply don't carry cash. "They just carry their credit card, and that's about it," Swafford said.

In other parts of the country, debit or credit card donations make up a significant part of the Salvation Army's resources.

In mid-Missouri, it's a challenge that Major Richard Trimmel said the organization faces more and more each year.

"People don't carry change as much as they used to," Trimmel said. "We do have locations that have experimented with credit card machines that you can actually put on the stand, or you can do it on your phone or things like that. But, none of that is free."

Trimmel said installing card readers for bell ringers would be expensive. However, he said if there were a signficant enough demand he said the organzation would consider it.

The Salvation Army in Columbia is facing a 15% increase of individuals and families needing assistance. Trimmel said Washington's cuts to the SNAP program have pushed thousands of people over the edge.

Hy-Vee shopper April Campbell said she would gladly swipe her card if she had the chance.

"I think it would be helpful. Like I said, most people pay cash but it's easier for me just to go ahead and swipe that card," Campbell said.

"I don't usually carry change and if I do, my kids usually pick it up."

Even without card readers on bell ringers' collection bins, there are tons of ways to give to the Salvation Army. In regards to whether or not there is a demand for such devices for bell ringers, the Salvation Army wants to hear from anyone who has an opinion on whether or not they think such devices should be installed.